By Tom Ehrich

Randy delivered a truckload of ready-to-burn firewood this morning, and not a moment too soon. In our neck of Upstate New York, fall has definitely fallen. It was raw outside as my wife and I stacked the wood.

Last evening, we had our first reading and knitting time beside a roaring fire. The first of many log fires, if I read Upstate weather correctly. I wonder if two cords of firewood will get us to March.

This first winter in the country will be a learning time in many ways. Staying warm without spending a fortune in fuel oil and electricity, for one thing. Staying even with snowfall and plowing. Using a gas-powered generator when an ice storm takes down power lines. Communicating without Internet access. Dealing with darkness without Manhattan lights to give relief. So much to learn.

I don't want to pretend that we are roughing it off the grid. I didn't have to fell the tree, saw trunk and branches into fireplace length, or split the rounds. I just wrote a check to Randy. And even he was using a large tractor to move logs acquired from a nearby lot, a mechanical splitter, and a payloader and dump truck.

Still, I am a bit closer to the land than I was in Manhattan. Same with the food we are eating. Without getting ideological about it, we are gravitating to the style known as "farm to table." We eat whatever local farmers are growing. Supplemented, of course, by the offerings of our local supermarket. This was our summer to discover heirloom tomatoes.

I am growing accustomed to the silence of rural life. And strange animal sounds. And stars in the sky. And roads with no traffic. And walking a quarter-mile to retrieve the mail. And hearing even the leaves falling during my twice-daily walks out Stony Kill Road.

It still feels magical. I suppose the day could come when I take all of this granted. I hope not. As much as I love city life and miss Manhattan, there is something fundamentally good up here.

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